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Rasha Rehman headshot

This New ESG Rating Helps Organizations Achieve DEI Goals

Organizations that are seeking to benchmark their DEI plans have a new set of ESG guidelines to consider, courtesy of IWBI.
By Rasha Rehman

Organizations looking to advance and benchmark their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) plans have a new set of ESG ratings to consider. Launched by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) and in collaboration with its Health Equity Advisory, the resulting WELL Equity Rating helps organizations accomplish DEI goals.

A more holistic approach to ESG

“The goal here is really to drive shifts within the organization, to drive real progress but also to give organizations the ability to speak about some of the things they are already doing that they may or may not know are contributing to more diverse and equitable outcomes," Rachel Hodgdon, president and CEO of IWBI, told TriplePundit.

The WELL Equity Rating is a culmination of two years of extensive research and feedback from target groups of stakeholders. Further, Hodgdon explained to 3p that in its development process, her team made notable observations. That is, global organizations have a commitment or desire to advance DEI efforts but lack tangible plans for achieving its goals. In addition, the organizations that do have a roadmap for achieving DEI goals, aren't focusing on the impactful processes, according to Hodgdon and her team’s research.

To date, over 30 global organizations, including Anderel, Empire State Realty Trust, JLL, Overbury and Shaw Industries have enrolled in this program. The rating is comprised of 40 features across six actions: user experience and feedback, responsible hiring and labor practices, inclusive design, health benefits and services, supportive programs and spaces and community engagement. These features are opportunities for participants to earn points towards the eligibility baseline of 21 points. Organizations can cross check these features with its processes and ascertain which goals it is on tracking for achieving.

While some ESG ratings may solely focus on specific aspects of DEI such as LGBTQ inclusion, according to Hodgdon, the WELL Equity rating differs because it is based on the location of organizations. Participants enroll their organization based on the location of their employees which may be multiple global offices or one autonomous location. 

An emphasis on wellness and DEI fosters a productive and engaged workforce

Hodgdon explained to 3p that parental leave or restorative spaces “are the kind of things that maybe an organization already does but they are not necessarily thinking it relates directly to more diverse outcomes and that’s where our research comes in to affirm that yes if you provided enhanced ergonomics that meet certain conditions that’s something that’s contributing to creating a more equitable workplace.”

Workplace design that considers employees’ interaction with their environment is essential. While ergonomics is implemented to primarily reduce injuries and increase efficiency, there are additional benefits. Ergonomics improves productivity, quality, employee engagement and helps create a safe culture. And a diverse and inclusive workplace that considers employees’ wellbeing and interaction with their environment, fosters innovation and fulfillment among them. To this point, the WELL Equity Rating focuses on health and wellbeing and creates a balanced approach to ESG for organizations, according to Hodgdon. She explained to 3p that in the rating eligibility process, participants can distill their ESG goals especially in the social and governance factors of the framework.

Factoring employee wellbeing is a win for all team members. And frameworks that keep organizations accountable to commitments and provide an efficacy assessment are essential. By partaking in the assessment of organizational structure, leaders can build strong DEI plans and fulfill any gaps accordingly. 

Image credit: Pavel Danilyuk via Pexels

Rasha Rehman headshot

Rasha is a freelance journalist with experience in external communications and publicity. She is a Ryerson School of Journalism graduate and has worked on various media and communication campaigns in film, home development and the nonprofit sector. Rasha is passionate about storytelling for impact, whether she focuses on social enterprise, transforming our food system or making the business world more inclusive.

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